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How to make MotherBee's special Bibingka

Updated: Sep 17, 2023


MotherBee's special Bibingka
MotherBee's special Bibingka

Living in New Zealand for nearly a decade before returning home to the Philippines, I found myself yearning for the tastes and traditions of Christmas back in my homeland. One thing that tugged at my heartstrings and taste buds alike was the allure of Bibingka. It wasn’t just a dessert; it was a piece of my childhood, a symbol of Filipino Christmases, and a link to cherished memories.




In the Philippines, the Christmas season begins early, with a tradition known as “Simbang Gabi” or midnight mass, starting on December 16th. I vividly recall those nights as a child, filled with anticipation as I waited for the hour of the mass to arrive. But it wasn’t the hymns or the prayers that captured my senses; it was the tantalizing scent of Bibingka that wafted from the stalls outside the church.


As the final notes of the mass resonated through the crisp night air, a new excitement took over. It was the promise of indulging in that warm, sweet, and slightly salty delight. The Bibingka was not just a treat; it was a symbol of gathering and friendship. Sharing it with family and friends after the mass was a tradition that bound us together, creating unforgettable moments and forging deeper connections.


Yearning for those flavors and emotions, I decided to take matters into my own hands. I embarked on a culinary journey to recreate that Bibingka magic. My kitchen became a laboratory, and my recipe a testament to nostalgia. With every mix of rice flour, coconut milk, and a dash of yeast, I was transported back to those Simbang Gabi nights.


Through trial and error, I crafted my own Bibingka recipe, one that mirrored the taste of my childhood. It was more than just food; it was a way to rekindle the warmth of Christmas in my heart, no matter where I found myself in the world. And as I savored the first bite of my homemade Bibingka, I realized that traditions can be carried with us, no matter how far we roam. They become a part of our story, weaving the past and present into a tapestry of memories and flavors that make Christmas truly special.


MotherBee's special Bibingka Ingredients

Preparation to Serving Time: Approximately 1 hour

Yield: 12 bibingka

*Note: If you use 1 cup of batter per mold with the provided ingredients, the estimated yield for your Bibingkas would be approximately 12 individual Bibingkas. This estimate assumes that each mold is filled with 1 cup of batter, and each Bibingka is of standard size, which is approximately 4 inches in diameter. Adjust the quantity of batter per mold and the size of your Bibingkas if you want them to be larger or smaller.

1 cup (135g) Rice flour, long grain

2/3 cup (92g) Glutinous rice flour

1/2 cup (60g) Cassava flour/starch

1 teaspoon (3g) Salt, fine

1 tablespoon (3g) Baking powder

3 1/2 tablespoons (50g) Salted Butter, melted:

1 cup (200g) White Sugar

6 large (350g) Fresh eggs

1 1/4 cups (300g) Coconut milk:

1 1/2 teaspoons (15g) Instant Yeast


Glaze:

1/2 cup (100g) Coconut milk

1/4 cup (50g) White Sugar

1 1/4 cups (200g) Cheddar Cheese, grated


Tools and Equipment:

  1. Mixing Bowls: You'll need at least two mixing bowls, one for dry ingredients and another for wet ingredients.

  2. Measuring Cups and Spoons: For accurate measurement of ingredients.

  3. Digital Weighing scale: to measure more precisely use the by weight value in the ingredients above.

  4. Whisk or Electric Mixer: To mix the wet ingredients, particularly the melted butter, sugar, eggs, coconut milk, and instant yeast. An electric mixer can make this process easier.

  5. Spatula: To assist in mixing and scraping the sides of the bowl.

  6. Cover for Bowl: To cover the mixture during the resting period when it's left in a warm place to rise.

  7. Bibingka Pan: Choose a pan suitable for Bibingka. If you don't have a traditional Bibingka pan, a round cake pan or a baking dish can work. Make sure to line it with wilted banana leaves.

  8. Wilted Banana Leaves: These are used for lining the pan and adding a traditional flavor to the Bibingka. (see article on how to wilt banana leaves)

  9. Oven or Pugon (Clay Oven): To bake the Bibingka. If using an oven, preheat it to the required temperature.

  10. Grater: If needed to grate the cheese for the topping.

  11. Mini wisker: For preparing the glaze by mixing coconut milk and sugar.

  12. Timer: To keep track of the baking and glazing time.

  13. Scissors: to cut the banana leaves

  14. Tong to hold hot molds

  15. Sifter - to remove unwanted materials from the dry ingredients.

  16. Oven mitts: to protect hands from hot surfaces


Instructions:

  1. In a clean bowl, mix all dry ingredients (rice flour, glutinous rice flour, cassava flour, fine salt, baking powder) until well blended then set aside.

  2. In another bowl, add melted butter and sugar then mix for 3-5 minutes.

  3. Add eggs, coconut milk, and instant yeast, then mix for 1-2 minutes.

  4. Add in dry premix and continue mixing until it forms a smooth batter.

  5. Cover the mixture and put it in a warm place for at least 1 hour or until the batter bubbles up and doubles in size.

  6. Pour the risen batter into a baking pan or bibingka pan lined with wilted banana leaf up to 3/4 full, top with salted egg or cheese.

  7. Bake your Bibingka in a pre-heated oven or traditional pugon set at 180C for 15 to 20 minutes, or until it achieves the perfect balance of a caramelized top and a moist crumb. To check its readiness, simply insert a toothpick; it’s done when the toothpick emerges clean, with no batter clinging to it.

  8. Prepare the glaze by mixing the coconut milk and sugar.

  9. While the bibingka is still warm, pour enough glaze on top and return it to the pugon or oven for 2-3 minutes.

  10. Serve immediately with butter and grated cheese.


Tips for Success and common mistakes to avoid:

  1. Measure Ingredients Accurately: Precision is key in baking. Use measuring cups and spoons to ensure you have the right amounts of each ingredient

  2. Sift Dry Ingredients: Before mixing, sift the dry ingredients like rice flour, glutinous rice flour, cassava flour, and baking powder. This removes lumps and ensures an even texture.

  3. Properly Mix Wet Ingredients: When combining the wet ingredients (melted butter, sugar, eggs, coconut milk, and instant yeast), ensure they are thoroughly mixed for a smooth batter.

  4. Don’t overmix the batter: just combine until it’s uniform - click here for detailed article about over mixing

  5. Allow Sufficient Rising Time: Let the batter rest in a warm place for at least 1 hour or until it doubles in size. This step is crucial for the Bibingka's texture and flavor.

  6. Preheat the Oven: If you're using an oven, make sure it's properly preheated to the specified temperature before placing the Bibingka inside.

  7. Line the Pan with Banana Leaves that is properly wilted: Traditional Bibingka gets its unique flavor from banana leaves. Line the pan with wilted banana leaves for an authentic touch.

  8. Control the Glazing: When applying the glaze, don't overdo it. Just enough to add a hint of sweetness and aroma without making it overly soggy.

  9. Top with Care: If you're adding salted eggs or cheese as toppings, place them gently on top of the batter to avoid deflating it.

  10. Use the Right Baking Pan: Choose a suitable pan size to achieve the desired thickness for your Bibingka. It should be filled up to 3/4 full.

  11. Monitor Baking Time: Keep a close eye on the Bibingka as it bakes. Baking times can vary, so test for doneness by inserting a toothpick into the center. It should come out clean when it's ready. Don't over bake. Click here for the article discussing how to know when it is done.


10 common issues that you might encounter while making Bibingka and how to troubleshoot them:


Bibingka is Dense or Heavy:

Issue: The batter may not have risen sufficiently.

Troubleshoot: Ensure that the batter is left to rise in a warm place for the recommended time. Check the freshness of the yeast.


Bibingka is Too Dry:

Issue: Overbaking can cause the Bibingka to become dry.

Troubleshoot: Reduce the baking time or temperature slightly to prevent excessive drying. Use a toothpick to check for doneness.


Bibingka is Undercooked in the Center:

Issue: The center of the Bibingka may take longer to cook than the edges.

Troubleshoot: Cover the pan with aluminum foil to prevent excessive browning on top while the center cooks. Ensure the batter is evenly spread in the pan.


Bibingka Has a Gummy Texture:

Issue: Overmixing the batter can lead to a gummy texture.

Troubleshoot: Mix the batter only until it's smooth. Overmixing can activate excess gluten, causing a gummy texture.


Bibingka Has a Strong Yeasty Flavor:

Issue: The yeast flavor is too pronounced.

Troubleshoot: Reduce the amount of instant yeast used or allow the batter to rise for a shorter time.


Bibingka Sticks to the Pan:

Issue: The Bibingka may stick to the pan.

Troubleshoot: Ensure you've properly lined the pan with wilted banana leaves or parchment paper to prevent sticking.


Bibingka Toppings Burn Too Quickly:

Issue: The cheese or salted eggs on top may burn during baking.

Troubleshoot: Place the toppings gently on the Bibingka and keep an eye on the baking process. You can cover the top with foil if necessary.


Bibingka is Too Thin or Thick:

Issue: The thickness of the Bibingka may not be to your liking.

Troubleshoot: Adjust the amount of batter you pour into the pan to achieve your desired thickness.


Bibingka Has a Soggy Bottom:

Issue: The bottom of the Bibingka may become soggy.

Troubleshoot: Ensure your oven or pugon is properly preheated, and don't apply too much glaze. Also, make sure the Bibingka is baked on a rack in the middle of the oven for even heating.


Bibingka Doming (Rising Unevenly): Issue: Sometimes, Bibingka may dome in the center while baking, creating an uneven surface.

Troubleshoot: To prevent doming, spread the batter evenly in the pan before baking. You can also lightly tap the pan on the counter to release any large air bubbles. Additionally, you can reduce the baking temperature slightly to promote even rising.


Bibingka Cracking on Top: Issue: Cracks may appear on the top surface of the Bibingka while baking.

Troubleshoot: Cracks are a common characteristic of Bibingka. To minimize cracking, try not to overmix the batter, as this can create tension in the surface. You can also reduce the oven temperature slightly and bake for a longer time to slow down the rising process and minimize cracks. However, some cracking is normal and adds character to the Bibingka.


shelf life for your Bibingka:

Storage Conditions:

  1. Room Temperature: You can only leave the bibingka at ambient or room temperature for maximum of 4 hours, beyond four hours you have to reheat the bibingka properly.

  2. Refrigeration: For longer freshness, it's advisable to store Bibingka in the refrigerator. Place it in an airtight container or wrap it tightly with plastic wrap or aluminum foil to prevent it from drying out or absorbing odors from the refrigerator.


Shelf Life:

  • Ambient/Room Temperature: maximum of 4 hours, if not eaten after 4 hours kindly dispose.

  • Chilled/Refrigerated: Pack properly in an airtight packaging, Bibingka can stay fresh for up to 3 to 5 days.

  • Frozen: For longer-term storage, you can freeze Bibingka. Wrap it securely in plastic wrap or aluminum foil, place it in an airtight container or a resealable freezer bag, and store it in the freezer for up to 2 to 3 months. When you're ready to enjoy the frozen Bibingka, allow it to thaw in the refrigerator overnight and then reheat it in the oven or microwave for a few minutes to regain its delightful texture and flavor. Properly stored and packaged, Bibingka can be enjoyed over an extended period while still retaining its deliciousness.


Special Bibingka is a cherished delicacy in the Philippines, deeply rooted in its history. Its origins can be traced back to the pre-colonial era when indigenous people used ground rice as a staple food. Over centuries, it evolved with the influence of various cultures, particularly Spanish colonization. The name “Bibingka” is derived from the Spanish word “bibingkoy,” signifying its rich cultural fusion.


What makes Bibingka even more fascinating is that each province in the Philippines boasts its unique version of this delectable traditional food. From the fluffy and sweet Bibingka of Luzon, often topped with slices of salted duck eggs and cheese, to the sticky and dense Bibingka of Visayas, flavored with coconut and sometimes even chocolate, the diversity in Bibingka recipes reflects the rich cultural tapestry of the Philippines. Each province takes pride in its distinct recipe, passed down through generations, adding its unique flavors and textures to this beloved dessert.


Traditionally, creating Bibingka was a labor of love. Rice would be soaked for three days to allow wild yeast to ferment. This fermented rice batter would then be taken to the local market, the “palengke,” to be ground into a thick paste. This exact grounded rice paste became the base of our Bibingka mix. It’s a process that connected communities and celebrated the art of making this cherished dish.


One of the best unique Bibingkas I have ever tasted was the Mandaue Cebu Bibingka. It is a small Bibingka but packed with flavor. It has a strong creamy coconut aroma and taste with a slight sourness due to the sour rice batter. There are strands of young coconut incorporated in the Bibingka batter. What makes it unique is that the people of Cebu add fermented coconut sap to act as a leavening agent. Due to the high coconut content of the product, it has a very short shelf life.


While in Manila, the version of Bibingka is similar to what I have shared in this post. Fluffy, yellowy in color, buttery, and cheesey, it embodies the classic flavors of this beloved Filipino dessert.


This delectable treat is a symbol of Filipino holiday celebrations, especially during Christmas. The aroma of Bibingka wafting through the air is a sure sign that the festive season has arrived. It’s also enjoyed during other special occasions, such as town fiestas and religious gatherings, adding warmth and tradition to these events.


Bibingka is more than just a dessert; it’s a shared experience. Families and friends gather around, eagerly awaiting its release from the oven. Traditionally, it’s cooked over hot coals or in a “pugon,” a clay oven, giving it a unique flavor and texture. Served piping hot, it’s often paired with butter, grated cheese, and sometimes a dollop of salted egg, enhancing its creamy, slightly sweet taste.


Bibingka has come a long way from its humble beginnings. Once a simple rice cake, it has embraced modern ingredients like baking powder and yeast, making it lighter and fluffier. Today, it also features a delightful glaze that elevates its taste. While the traditional preparation methods are still cherished, these modern adaptations have added new dimensions to this beloved dessert.


In recent years, innovative twists on Bibingka have emerged. Some incorporate flavors like ube (purple yam) or pandan (screwpine leaf) for a unique taste. Others experiment with toppings like coconut flakes or even chocolate drizzle. These contemporary versions allow Bibingka to cater to a wider range of tastes.


To maintain its freshness, Special Bibingka should be stored in a chilled condition, preferably in the refrigerator. It can be kept for up to 5 days when refrigerated. To enjoy it again, simply reheat by steaming or baking it for 2-3 minutes until it’s warmed through and regains its delightful texture and flavor.


Common Questions:

Question: Can I use regular rice flour instead of glutinous rice flour in my Bibingka?

Answer: While glutinous rice flour contributes to the unique texture of Bibingka, you can experiment with substituting regular rice flour. However, the texture will be different.


Question: How can I make Bibingka with a crispy top crust?

Answer: Achieving a crispy top crust can be done by using a traditional clay oven (pugon) or, in a regular oven, you can briefly broil the Bibingka after glazing to give it a slightly crispy texture.


Question: Can I make Bibingka without using yeast?

Answer: Yes, you can make Bibingka without yeast by using baking powder as a leavening agent. However, the texture and taste will be slightly different.


Question: Can I use frozen grated coconut in my Bibingka?

Answer: Yes, you can use frozen grated coconut, but make sure to thaw and drain it thoroughly before adding it to the batter.


Question: What’s the significance of Bibingka during Christmas?

Answer: Bibingka holds great significance during Christmas in the Philippines. It is a traditional holiday delicacy, often associated with the "Simbang Gabi" or midnight mass that starts on December 16th. It symbolizes the warmth and togetherness of the season, and its aroma is a beloved part of Filipino Christmas traditions.


Question: Can I use regular flour instead of glutinous rice flour?

Answer: While you can experiment with using regular rice flour, it's important to note that glutinous rice flour contributes to the unique texture of Bibingka. Substituting it may result in a different texture and taste.


Question: What’s the best way to wilt banana leaves for lining the pan?**

Answer: To wilt banana leaves for lining the pan, briefly pass them over an open flame or run them over a hot skillet for a few seconds until they become more pliable. This process helps release their aroma and makes them easier to handle for lining.In the spirit of Christmas and sharing, may your Special Bibingka bring joy and togetherness to your festivities this year!


Here are some ingredient substitutions you can consider when making Bibingka:


Glutinous Rice Flour:

Substitution:

  • Regular rice flour or rice flour blend.

  • All-purpose flour

Note: The texture may be slightly different, but it's a viable alternative.


Cassava Flour/Starch:

Substitution: Tapioca starch

Note: These starch have similar properties and can be used as a replacement.


Salted Butter:

Substitution: Unsalted butter with a pinch of salt or margarine.

Note: Adjust the added salt according to taste if using unsalted butter.


White Sugar:

Substitution: Brown sugar or coconut sugar.

Note: These sugars will add a different flavor profile to the Bibingka, the brown sugar and coconut sugar will add a smokey caramel flavour and can darken the colour of the crumb.


Coconut Milk:

Substitution: Coconut cream + water (50:50 ratio), evaporated milk or whole milk.

Note: Coconut milk/cream provides a distinct flavor and higher fat content; using dairy milk will alter the taste and texture.


Banana Leaves (for Lining):

Substitution: Parchment paper.

Note: While it won't provide the same flavor, parchment paper can be used for convenience and will still prevent the bibingka to stick into the pan.


Cheddar Cheese (for Topping):

Substitution: Edam, mozzarella, or a local cheese of your choice.

Note: Use a cheese with a mild flavor that melts well.


Instant Yeast:

Substitution: Active dry yeast or fresh yeast.

Note: Adjust the quantity and proof active dry yeast in warm water if needed.


These substitutions can help you adapt your Bibingka recipe based on ingredient availability or dietary preferences. However, keep in mind that the taste and texture may vary when using substitutes, so consider experimenting to achieve your desired outcome.



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